Beyond the Displacement-Emplacement Binary in a Global ‘South’ City

Authors: Debangana Bose*, National University Of Ireland
Topics: Urban Geography
Keywords: displacement, emplacement, placemaking, subaltern urbanisation, slum resettlement, Delhi
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/11/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 31
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper examines the seemingly illegible logics of the conflicting practices of abandonment and placemaking among institutionally displaced long-term slum dwellers and new migrants in Delhi’s periphery using ethnographic research. Peripheral resettlement colonies in Delhi often experience abandonment by slum dwellers who were relegated upon theses spaces by the state and the inflow of new residents who informally buy land and settle on a temporary basis. Existing literature on the contesting politics and practices of placemaking and subaltern urbanisation focuses on the improvised nature of these practices and the liminality of these spaces. However, existing literature lacks examination of the decision-making processes of abandonment and placemaking through informal use and sale of land among slum dwellers and new migrants. Throwing light on this research gap, I argue that the decision to abandon, reside or return in peripheral resettlement colonies are often shaped by the slum dwellers’ and the new migrants’ conjectural encounters and speculative expectations of an imagined future in the peripheral resettlement sites. I further argue that practices of abandonment are often tied anxieties of land grabs and a bad milieu in the resettlement colonies depicting a process of phenomenological and physical displacement. In doing so, I also argue that these asemic practices of production of space by the marginalised are also practices of unsettlement mimicking regimes of exclusionary displacement. Furthermore, acts of emplacement and displacement operate simultaneously within the resettlement site dismantling the displacement-emplacement binary as generally perceived in the literature.

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